In my last blog post I mentioned that I have had a change of focus this year regarding a key focus area which I am concentrating towards building on.
Just some quick background regarding the so-called ‘Pact’ tradition that Elisabeth Hocke and myself have found ourselves doing since the end of 2016. It has become an annual thing where we hold ourselves accountable on reaching certain medium term goals: for a recap checkout some of my earlier posts specifically https://toyerm.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/get-out-there-share-your-story/ and Lisi’s blog site https://www.lisihocke.com/2018/12/2018-a-crazy-year-in-retrospect.html for some detail on the full story regarding holding each other accountable on challenging goals and the actual pacts. As you will read on Lisi’s 2019 challenge, she has pitched forward the idea of her becoming ‘Code confident’ – a rather amazing challenge! On my side I decided to take ‘The Test Leadership Leap”. So my goal and pact for 2019 is to focus on building all areas of becoming a better leader. This ties in with multiple areas of my career, I have recently been given the role to manage several testers at my company, this to add to my current role of a QA Tech Lead. So the balancing act of People vs Tech is a rather interesting aspect to get into. The other area is on Test community matters, where the itch to learn and share knowledge has automatically made me more visible in the test and software community, both locally and internationally. The prospect of inspiring and motivating others really excites me, so learning key areas of leading is rather important to me at this point. More about this further on in this post
(image source: https://www.wenzelamerica.com/its-very-unique/leap/)
At the end of 2018 I was given the opportunity by the company that I work for, to attend an internally run Leadership course which spans 3 years. The first 2 years of which includes being on 4 day block weeks for about 4 times a year and the final year which includes a leadership focused project that cohorts need to work and submit on. This was something which fitted directly into my short and medium term goals, an opportunity which I was willing to grab with both hands and a grateful heart!
The reason why I specifically waited a few months to blog about this pact was to gain some early insights into the first 2 block weeks of the Leadership programme to gather thoughts and application of the leadership concept and overlay that against the background of the Testers world. This will be an ongoing Leadership series of things I have learnt and how I see the possible practical implementation of some of these concepts.
Early insights- do you know yourself?
My learnings started with a bang! Fairly early on I was introduced to the concept of Enneagrams- https://www.integrative9.com/enneagram/introduction/ – a quick definition from that site is “The Enneagram refers to the nine different types or styles, with each representing a worldview and archetype that resonates with the way people think, feel and act in relation to the world, others and themselves”
After doing an assessment to determine my Enneagram type, many things fell into place regarding my thinking, feeling and acting areas of my life. I will not share my enneagram type on this blog post due to a personal choice 🙂 but I must say I definitely knew which type I resonated with the most before doing the actual assessment.
1 thing I picked up that defines the way I move forward in this Leadership journey, is that you firstly have to know your own positive traits along with your areas of development and blindspots to be an effective leader. The power of influence is driven by how you convey the ideas you are looking to implement or to get buy-in for. You have to know yourself and you have to know the person/s on the other side. Knowing your audience and their needs is key to make the topic of influence a little easier.
Find your “Why”!
As with any individual including someone who also chooses to lead you have to know why you are there.
As mentioned in my intro, one aspect which has always drawn me to leadership and influence was my passion for people, also to add to that – the satisfaction I gain in helping others learn and push them to reach as far as they can.
(Image source: “https://za.pinterest.com/pin/365213851024810967/”)
I asked myself am I really living this as someone in the Testing Field. I then gained much comfort in 2 very recent testing related examples and experiences.
- firstly as a leader, last year our testers were given a new challenge to upskill quickly to this new super technical angle that our company was heading towards. Quite a few of the testers that we had at the company had moved in from business areas of the company or did not have previous experience with coding or even the aesthetics around tool specifics. I decided to drive forward and host a 5 part bi-monthly sessions to give them intros and some practical demos on:-
- version control software like git, the check in and merge process etc
- API basics like what is an API, what does it do, how do we test API’s and much more
- automation tools used at our company, and what level of the application they cover
- other technical tools like Monitoring tools
- High level system architecture -so that one knew the flows intra and inter system in order to test better
- secondly as a test community member, Lisi and myself decided to do a few things to inspire others:-
- share our story of pairing at conference and via blogs, social media, webinars, articles and podcasts–all this to get others to push themselves to reach new heights to benefit self and company.
- form an extended “PowerLearningGroup” – which is an international skype group which meets every 3 weeks or so. This group includes 10 like-minded, passionate testers and leaders from across the world (9 countries) who meet regularly to share ideas and concepts that can benefit our day to day tester lives. The other benefit is to spur each other on to work on latest and greatest initiatives to better the testing world practically.
Doing is believing
So I looked to bring this back to testing. As a Test Leader and manager I had to take steps of doing massive introspections and also getting to know my peers, mentees and fellow colleagues even more. I am making concerted efforts to setup time with those who report into me to better understand them from a personal and work point of view. To find out what makes them tick, what drives them and what would they like from me as a leader. I also looked at using my technical knowledge to leverage more respect by doing , helping and working together to attain a common goal. For example a recent practical example was to improve the presence of Performance testing across multiple areas. I decided to setup an initial session with a broader group to highlight the reason why Performance testing is vital in our environment , how it was done and what needed to be focused on to get it going themselves. I have now proceeded to have more focused team specific sessions where I would physically help in implementation of these tests. In my view a better leader (especially in the IT development world) does as much as he speaks, don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk too. Lead as YOU want to be led!
This leads (
see what i did there) me to the end of part 1, as I wrote this I realised that there are layers and layers to this Leadership area and it might take me a good few hours to keep going on this post. It is a journey indeed! There is so much more to share on this early stage of my Leadership journey but I will save it for the next part of the series 🙂 So welcome on this journey with me!